Don’t Undersell Yourself

[Originally posted in the October 29th edition of my Newsletter.]

Recently, I was made aware of a position and was putting together a cover letter to apply. It was pointed out that I kept downplaying my experiences and accomplishments despite having over 10 years of comic making experience. I didn’t sound confident and I needed to fix that.

On the flip side, I was watching a video series on YouTube called What Went Wrong where the host details failed games and why they fell apart. The most recent episode covered a game called Dreamworld. During the video, one of the two guys behind the game touted himself as being an ex-superstar Google employee but had only interned there for four months. Likewise, his partner was billed as having nine years of game development experience which apparently just referred to him writing ideas down on a notepad.

They went on to convince people into giving them $64k for a game that they promised would be the game to end all games.

It went about as well as you expected.

Fair play to them, they did stick it out and see the game through but it is a disaster. The video is an hour long but it is a fascinating watch. The level of blind ambition and confidence is really remarkable. I came away feeling more bad for them than disliking them.

What Went Wrong: Dreamworld on YouTube

When I see videos like that where the people with little to no experience completely oversell themselves, I do wonder why it’s so hard for people with actual experience to realistically sell themselves. I see people with years/decades of experiences in their field constantly doubt and undersell themselves. Why is it that the people who don’t get impostor syndrome are usually impostors? Perhaps because they don’t know how much work goes into the thing so they can casually lie? I don’t know.

What I do know is that I’m going to try to downplay my own accomplishments less. I have ten years’ worth of comic making experience. I’ve written hundreds of pages that have seen print. The books are all high quality and two of the three series I have written have been picked up by publishers. I don’t need to undersell myself and neither does anyone else with real experience.

I don’t find anything wrong with faking it until you make it, but I do think that too many people see themselves as faking it when they are actually doing the work. Meanwhile people with nothing but a dream are out here outright lying about their accomplishments.

I guess what I mean to say is don’t undersell yourself or downplay your accomplishments. There are people without your experience and knowledge just hyping themselves up to no end. The difference is that you have the years to back it up and they don’t. So you might as well own it.

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